The following is a translation from the first issue of GQ Denge (GQ Balance), December 2020
Akin Akinozu: Seeing life from the core of his being to go with the flow
Published December 12, 2020
The first cover star of GQ Balance: Akin Akinozu. Find out more about Akin Akinozu who sees life from the core of his being with the experiences, feelings and plans he has had through the journey of a balance of life to go with the flow.
From 6 years old to 30, from the room he had as a kid to his days at Berkeley, now his shift to the set of Hercai series in Mardin... Akin Akinozu describes balance as a position of trying to keep the scattering balls on the same ground rather than a metaphor of the man who walks on a rope. So he is aware that this situation also includes imbalance. In his daily life, the idea that “God is the state of spectacular balance.” is always on his mind.
Akin Akinozu is trying to continue with a profession which is self-funded in this period of where people are defined by their occupation. He says, “You are expected to open up about yourself entirely on the stage. And people wait to attack you when you get down from the stage. You have to learn to protect yourself, do it without an armor and to keep your balance. It’s as difficult as it is valuable. You are in a field where you can be harassed.” When he also utters that he needs a resilient defense mechanism in these circumstances, he points out that he tries to keep the balance between two opposite poles.
His U.S. experience which started at the age of 17 in college has improved him in more ways than only solving problems on a sheet of paper in the Math department. He remembers an episode where he had lines in 90 pages of a 98-pages script. He mentions the reservoir of the endeavor he made to be on balance and move on when the chaotic outer world/industry effect blended with the triangle of days spent between the hotel-caravan-set. The parts he could achieve go to show. The time he lived alone, focused on himself, and the problems he solved on paper have been a training which improved his technique of keeping the balance. The benefits of this training reveal themselves in application, in different areas.
While he feels grateful for the balance he kept, he hints at weight problems he had where he lost balance and refers to it as “the tip of the iceberg” . The transformation of him from 120 kilos to his current appearance is actually a visible journey of finding balance. He says “Of course, willpower makes you stronger. Finding balance after the state of imbalance makes you an individual with a stronger will. The journeys I went on to ease the disturbance that was caused by imbalance always carried me to a higher state of balance.”
Akin’s struggle between work and life parallels the one that many of us have. When I asked “What were the moments in which you both did injustice to yourself and felt inadequate and what were the ones you did yourself a favor?” he replied “I learned to sleep in this season of the series.” Because he said that when he returns late from the set and sleeps less wanting to be extra prepared for the next day, he does injustice to himself. When he chooses sleeping over that he does a favor, and he feels inadequate until he shows the performance he wishes to show. He also happily mentions that this new balance between sleeping and other things affected his performance positively. “In other words properly applied, the“I’ll-sleep-now-and-wake-up-early-tomorrow-to-work” system works very well when your body and mind needs recharging.”
Meditative Experience in Everything
We learned that a lot of people ask him “How can you find time for sports while working on a busy schedule?“ His answer actually clarifies his opinion of meditation: “I feel bad if I don’t do sports. The essence of meditation is in breathing but I think the most important thing is to try to have a meditative experience in everything we do.” He even tries to see our conversation that way and the hours he reads too...
Sometimes little changes can bring about big benefits for keeping the balance to ‘have a meditative experience in everything’. Akin’s shift requires a performance in a set full of other people’s energy and in front of so many eyes. And after the shift, he is in a hotel room, not at his home.
When he says “Each energy touches you therefore there must be an area where you can be alone.” he emphasizes how a caravan can affect a performance of an actor. While he talks about the ergonomic chair he bought to read the scripts more comfortably in the hotel room, he makes it clear that he is a modest person against “the leading role of a series with a high rating” stereotype. He actually does all these things to turn the “filming a scene” situation into a meditative experience. Lately, he has been Miran on our screens. The edge he finds himself on while he’s trying to enjoy the character, makes him come face-to-face with a type of a personal test.
"It's Important to Provide a Filter"
His high-key acting receives bad criticism as much as accolades. According to scientific research, there’s no possibility for us to be unaffected by even the thoughts of others who we don’t know. Akin’s cure against this is a strong one: “The anatomy of a tree is what keeps me on my feet. The wind shakes it, but its roots are firm; It is still there after the wind has passed. But if its root is not solid, it flies away in the first wind.
I receive a lot of praise and a lot of criticism... Praise can be just as lethal as criticism. At this point, the standards one sets for himself play a critical role and I believe the best standard one can set is this question: “Am I in balance? Personally, I find an answer to this question when I lay in my bed at nights. Can I sleep in peace? That’s the issue.
This is also important: If you can build a filtering mechanism on your values, you can pick the constructive ones from the criticisms and praises that you receive. It’s important to invent this filter since balance depends on it.
There are times that filters don’t work and the calculations fail in practice. The need for thinking about the balance and imbalance at the same time emerges. And you start to question yourself: “How do I stay sane and keep going without losing my center in a realm of praise and criticism? I welcome them openly. Haven’t I ever got carried away? I have.””
For Akin, self-awareness comes into existence in the exercises he got used to doing. “I think the basic lesson meditation teaches is this: Did you lose yourself in your thoughts? Focus on your breath. You started losing yourself in your thoughts again? Focus on your breath again. So when I realize that I'm getting carried away by criticism, praise or other factors, I focus on my most valuable things: my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my conscience... They are my breath.”
There are also “operation dynamics” in Akin’s core of life: Let’s rewind the movie’s balance part: Actually Akin met the feeling of balance at the age of 5 or 6. You may ask how a child can understand the notion. The answer is obvious: Because he is an only child. The state of being “lonely” as an only child led him to keep the balance.Of course, he could completely figure out the feeling of the balance he kept in life later.
There’s a conflict that occurred in his relationship with his mother and father that lies beneath the process of reaching this point in life. It happens like this: Akin is talking to his father via video call in his senior year of university. In this call, the moment Akin says that he is interested in acting, his father’s notebook flies into the air. Akin is very young so he feels very upset. But the unconditional love of his mother prevents him from feeling offended by this stone-hard reaction. But the law of gravity shouldn’t be forgotten: His father is the force behind the reason Akin studying in US and of many other of his decisions.
While Akin is thinking about these things, he says this regarding to his plans of becoming a father: “I am aware that I will find out about things throughout the journey when I have a child one day, even though I have some thoughts as to what kind of a road I want to pave for her/him.When I take my child in my arms, a lot of things will change. My decisions will probably change. But at least I had the chance to deduce and observe some things from the way I was brought up and owing to the awareness of being an only child. I hope I can take it one level higher when I become a father.”
"There's a Reason for Everything"
Akin, who can look at himself from outside during the journey, stays close to a coupled system of thoughts to not to fall away from the flow. For instance, “What happens to us is just 10% of the whole, the rest is how we react to them.” When one thinks like this, reactions calm down, wrong decisions take a u-turn, maybe things fall in line without giving it away. “There’s a blessing in any happenstance.” becomes meaningful for him too. Before he had to go to Los Angeles due to being declined by his school in Wisconsin after his prep year, a teacher he loved had told him, “There’s a reason for everything that happens.” This sentence felt nonsensical to the young boy who was declined by a school those days. But his maneuver to LA where he breathed the air and chose to be an actor made him write a letter of thankfulness to his teacher. This unexpected maneuver made him develop the perspective that “there’s a plan that operates beyond your imagination, let it operate for you.” in years.
He says, “There’s a very beautiful saying of Jim Carrey, 'Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you' ". When we look from the perspective of ‘a life that happens for you’, life gratefully serves us all blessings beyond our imagination.”
He’s thinking about leaving his comfort zone soon and constructing one of the legs of his bridge for a career in LA. The reason he wants to leave his comfort zone and pursue a new kind of balance is the need for taking a step toward using his potential fully. He reminds us of Andre Gide’s quote“One can’t discover new oceans unless they dare to have the shore out of sight” and utters that he has to do this in his journey.
We end our conversation of balance with the opposite meaning of it which occasionally revealed itself during the interview. What a person who ponders about this matter does at a moment of imbalance? “Anger, getting angry... Being impatient... But that’s not THIS Akin! No! That’s Akin too but the imbalanced Akin. An Akin who lost his balance, his center, his way, himself. I’ve been there. I reacted in a way I shouldn’t have. But what’s important to me is if I could or couldn’t take lessons from it. I have achieved putting all the lessons that I learned into action until today, I hope I can keep going on my way like this from now on.
We can imagine the ‘spectacular balance’ as God. At least, that’s what I think. Falling into the dark is kind of like distancing from this balance. But experiencing it is also important because you learn what you shouldn’t do by the feeling of being there. The limit-pushing working tempo and the need for interaction of this industry supplies us with a very solid training area for mastery of balance.”
In this conversation we had on a Sunday by calling his hotel room in Mardin in the first couple months of his 30th year, the feeling of balance which he learned at the age of six owing to his self-awareness and then discovered fully later, and his goal of reaching it, is with Akin alongside the flashing moments of imbalance. He is aware that he skids on the curves of the road in his journey. While he focuses on enjoying the moment, he uses his innate power to go with the flow dynamically but peacefully. “The flow is a message that I was given at birth. My name is Akin, I have to flow.* I’m on this kind of journey. And balance can be kept only with a state of flux.”
Executive editor: Ali Tufan Koç
Author: Alper Etiş
Photographs: Tuğberk Acar
Video: Fora Norman
Styling: Erkan Altunay
Hair: Hüseyin Altun
Fashion Assistant: Gözde Keleş
*Akin means “inflow, rush” and also the imperative mood meaning “Flow!”
No copyright infringement intended. All photos and videos belong to their respective owners.